Sick gawpers jumped fence to 'photograph body being recovered' less than a mile from where Nicola Bulley disappeared

20 February 2023, 15:48 | Updated: 20 February 2023, 19:27

Sick gawpers jumped fence to 'photograph body being recovered' less than a mile from where Nicola Bulley disappeared
Sick gawpers jumped fence to 'photograph body being recovered' less than a mile from where Nicola Bulley disappeared. Picture: Alamy

By Danielle DeWolfe

Sick members of the public jumped a fence to photograph a body being recovered from the river near where Nicola Bulley disappeared, an ex-police chief has revealed.

Bob Eastwood, former chief superintendent with Lancashire Police, said people "purporting to be the media" had climbed barriers to get a better vantage point of the crime scene.

He went on to describe the mother-of-two's disappearance as a "watershed moment" where media coverage of active police investigations was concerned.

Mr Eastwood's comments came as Ms Bulley's family said they "had to be strong" following the discovery of a body near where Nicola went missing whilst walking her dog in St Michael's on Wyre on January 27.

It is understood a man and a woman walking their dog discovered the body at around 11.30am before calling police.

It is understood a man and a woman walking their dog discovered the body at around 11.30 before calling police.
It is understood a man and a woman walking their dog discovered the body at around 11.30 before calling police. Picture: LBC / Alamy

"Only yesterday there were people purporting to be the media that quite clearly weren't and they were climbing over the fence to take pictures of the body that the police were recovering. This is something else," he said on Radio 4's Today programme.

Criticising the use of "so-called specialists" as part of the case, the former officer highlighted the extreme level of intrusion and speculation surrounding the active case.

It comes as search expert Peter Faulding, 60, who assisted police alongside his specialist group of divers, pushed back against criticism after voicing various theories following Ms Bulley's disappearance.

Mr Eastwood's comments follow widespread criticism of so-called "TikTok detectives" who had been seen searching the area, with her friends, family and police, all speaking out about their intrusion.

Mr Eastwood said: "I think it's a watershed moment in how policing going forward deals not only with the onslaught of communications and the interest of media organisations, but it's the ones that do not represent media organisations, that purport to be..."

Read more: 'We have to be strong': Nicola Bulley’s family 'brace for worst possible news' after body found

Read more: Nicola Bulley's partner tells of 'agony' after police discover body in search for missing mother-of-two

Shelagh Fogarty reacts to 'freaks' trying to take photos of remains

He added: "The other of course is the use of so-called specialists, who I think in this case imposed themselves on the investigation and Nicola's family, and I'm hoping their consciences are currently in overdrive."

Commenting on specialists linked to the case, Mr Eastwood said their comments on the investigation had "actually fed into a lot of people's obsession".

When asked about the release of personal information - notably Ms Bulley's struggles with alcohol and menopause - by Lancashire Police, Eastwood added: "When I first heard the police had released that, I cringed."

"But I didn't say anything, I didn't put anything out on my own social media because I didn't know the full facts and didn't know why they had taken those steps.

When asked about the release of personal information - notably Ms Bulley's struggles with alcohol and menopause - by Lancashire Police, Mr Eastwood added: "I cringed".
When asked about the release of personal information - notably Ms Bulley's struggles with alcohol and menopause - by Lancashire Police, Mr Eastwood added: "I cringed". Picture: LBC / Alamy

"Some hours later the family gave a press release indicating they were aware the information was to be given out and they'd given the information out because somebody had sold a story to the press and that information was going to be given out as an exclusive.

"Knowing policing as I do, I suspect that they made that decision in order to prevent somebody releasing it in that way. It was unpleasant information to hear but I think in all the circumstances, from what I know and believe, I think the police were right to do so."

He added that the release of such information fuelled stories and created "even more dramas" that police have had to deal with "on a colossal scale" as part of the case.

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